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NDIFREKE EFFIONG’S HEADER CRUMBLES PILLARS IN UYO

MFON PATRICK

Akwa United’s top striker Ndifreke Effiong continued his red-hot form in front of goal this season as his 30th minute powerful header earned Akwa United a vital victory over Kano Pillars at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo on Match-day 7 of the Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL.

Effiong rose above Pillars’ defenders to nod home Etboy Akpan’s inch-perfect cross from the right to increase his tally to four goals from seven matches.

The victory was the Promise Keepers’ second win of the season and it has propelled them to 11th on the NPFL log with nine points from seven matches.

The coaching crew made two changes to the team that lost in Owerri last weekend. Olisa Ndah was recalled to the starting line up while Saidu Salisu made his first start of the season.

The Promise Keepers took the game to their visitors from the blast of the whistle and dominated play in all departments, pinning Pillars back in their own half.

Akwa United frontmen; Mfon Udoh, Ndifreke Effiong, Salisu Saidu and Ubong Friday threatened Pillars back-line with Etboy Akpan’s dangerous crosses from the right.

The first real chance of the game went the way of Ndifreke Effiong whose header from Etboy Akpan’s cross sailed over the bar. Moments later, Mfon Udoh freed Salisu Saidu in a one-on-one situation only for the striker to blast his effort across the face of goal.

More pressure from Akwa United caused Pillars defenders lots of trouble in the 24th minute when they failed to deal with Etboy Akpan’s cross and Ndifreke Effiong’s over-head kick narrowly missed the target.

The striker got his goal in the 30th minute when he out-jumped the whole of Kano Pillars defence line to send a powerful header beyond goalkeeper Idris Ibrahim to put his team in front.

The Promise Keepers had two good chances to increase their lead towards the end of the first half but were unable to find the back of the net on both occasions.

Defender Olisa Ndah exchanged beautifully with Ndifreke Effiong to locate Seth Mayi. The midfielder fired a superb shot from 25 yards and it went wide. Ndifreke Effiong was presented with a golden opportunity to score his second of the game when Ubong Friday and Otobong Effiong combined neatly from the left but the striker’s attempt was saved by Idris Ibrahim as they went into the break with a deserved lead.

Few minutes after the restart, Mfon Udoh played a tricky ball over Pillars defence only to blast it straight at Idris Ibrahim, who in a desperate attempt to save it, spilled the ball towards Saidu Salisu but the striker’s low shot was comfortably saved on the goal line.

Kano Pillars increased the tempo of their play in the second half but couldn’t find a way past a well coordinated back-line marshalled by Captain Otobong Effiong, Sampson Gbadebo, Olisa Ndah and Etboy Akpan who provided a good cover for goalkeeper Adewale Adeyinka who had very little to do throughout the game to keep a clean sheet.

Akwa United replaced Mfon Udoh, Ubong Friday, Seth Mayi and Salisu Saidu with Wisdom Fernando, Ikechukwu Nwani, Ubong Essien and Dare Ojo, who could not add to their team’s advantage but were able to close out the game and secure their second win of the season.

Akwa United are five points behind the 2020/2021 league leaders, Nasarawa United who have 14 points from seven matches. The two-time Federation Cup Champions will next play Adamawa United on Match-day 8 away from home.

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